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Recipes

Spaghetti Bolognese

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Bolognese is a meat-based sauce that originated in Bologna, Italy.  Typically it’s a thick sauce that contains more meat than tomatoes and is made with butter as to give it a unique flavor.  One of my favorites!!

Spaghetti Bolognese

Ingredients:

1 lb lean ground sirloin
24oz can of ground peeled tomatoes
1 small carrot, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon of butter
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Salt/pepper
1 lb spaghetti

Method:

In a large skillet, saute carrots and garlic in both butter and olive oil for about 3 minutes over medium heat.  Then add the ground beef, salt/pepper, and cook until no longer pink, about 5 minutes.

Next add the can of tomatoes, cover and cook over medium low heat for about 30 minutes, stirring ocassionally.

Cook spaghetti as directed on package.   Drain and mix together with sauce.  Serve sprinkled with parm cheese and (as I always add to pretty much everything) some crushed red pepper flakes.

@JulieBenz ‘s Chocolate Pistachio Cake Recipe

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1 box yellow cake mix
1 box instant pistachio pudding
4 eggs
1 cup oil
1 cup orange juice
3/4 cup chocolate syrup

beat eggs, oil and OJ with the cake mix and pudding mix
pour 3/4 of this mixture into a greased tube pan
add chocolate syrup to the remaining batter
pour over batter in pan and swirl with a fork
bake 1 hour at 350

turns out perfect everytime and sooooo easy to make!

*** Julie Benz posted this on twitter and I figured passing on the awesomeness would be appreciated by all looking for a new dessert recipe! – Ali

Andrea’s Sunday Gravy and Meatballs

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You’ve probably heard the debate:  is it sauce or gravy?  Some (like my family) refer to it as gravy when it’s cooked for a long time and usually with a meat base- whether it be meatballs, sausage, pork shoulder, chicken, etc….  On the other hand, sauce is a quick-cooked concoction without the meat.  I was taught at a very early age how to make this gravy.  I ended up creating my own version using the same method and basics I learned from my family incorporating my personal touches. Enjoy!

Andrea’s Sunday Gravy and Meatballs

Ingredients

Meatballs:

2 lbs meatloaf mix (equal parts ground pork/veal/beef)
2 eggs
1 cup of bread crumbs
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Olive oil
Salt/pepper

Gravy:

2 28oz cans of ground peeled tomatoes (I use the “kitchen ready” Pastene brand)
½ cup of tomato paste
½ cup diced onion
4 cloves of garlic, minced
½ cup dry red wine
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt/pepper

In a large bowl, combine the ground meat, garlic, bread crumbs, cheese, eggs, and some salt/pepper.   Shape meatballs (size between golf ball and tennis ball).   In a large pot, heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium low and fry the meatballs in batches.  You will only need to cook the meatballs about 2-3 min per side as they will finish cooking in the gravy.   Set aside meatballs on a separate plate.  In that same pot, add the onions and a few pinches of salt and cook on medium heat until the onions start to become translucent.  Then add the red wine and cook for about 2 minutes.  Next, add the tomato paste and combine thoroughly.   Then pour the cans of tomatoes plus a half of a can of water, a little bit more salt, and some pepper.   Carefully put the meatballs back into the sauce, drop the heat to medium low, cover and simmer for at least an hour, stirring occasionally.  The gravy can also be simmered for a longer period of time, 3-4 hours over low heat.

Serve with your favorite pasta – top with grated parmesan cheese and hot red pepper flakes.

Freeze leftovers in small containers for quick dinners.

Tahini-Battered Chicken with Tabbouleh

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Ok, I cannot take credit for creating this particular recipe.  I got it out of the current issue of Rachael Ray Magazine.  The only two things I did differently was that I used boneless chicken breasts instead of tenders and substituted the oregano with parsley as I am not a big fan of oregano except in pizza sauce.  But if you are, by all means, use it.

Ingredients

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (or 8 boneless/skinless chicken tenders)
1/2 large red onion, quartered
1 teaspoon of lemon zest
1/3 cup of tahini paste (made from ground sesame seeds)
2 teaspoons of coarse salt (1 for the batter, 1 for the flour mixture)
1 cup of flour
2 tablespoons of sesame seeds
Olive oil
Small handful of flat leaf parsley
Container of ready-made tabbouleh (a Middle Eastern salad made from bulgar wheat, parsley, tomatoes, onions and lemon juice)

Method

Using a food processor, pulse the onion quarters, parsley, lemon zest, tahini and 1 teaspoon of salt.  With the machine on, add two tablespoons of olive oil and process until smooth; transfer to a medium bowl.  Add chicken and toss.

In a shallow dish, combine flour, sesame seeds, and the other teaspoon of salt.  In a large skillet heat a few tablespoons of olive oil over medium-low heat.  Working in batches, coat the chicken breasts in the sesame flour.  Add to the pan and fry, turning once or twice until golden brown and cooked through-about 20-25 minutes. (if you use the tenders, it will take about 5-10 minutes) Serve with tabbouleh.

You can also serve this with couscous.
Mix-in ideas for the couscous:
Peas, golden raisins, any kind of nuts (cashews, almonds, pine nuts), feta cheese, etc….

Mini Turkey Meat Loaves w/Pan Gravy and Cranberry-Orange Relish

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In the mood for the flavors of a Thanksgiving feast without all of the work?  These mini turkey meat loaves are perfect to satisfy that craving sans the blood, sweat, and tears!

(and as always, please forgive the poor quality pictures)

Mini Turkey Meat Loaves w/Pan Gravy and Cranberry-Orange Relish

Ingredients

1 lb ground turkey
2 celery stalks (chop some of the leaves as they have tons of flavor)
2 large carrots
I large onion
½ cup crushed Saltine crackers
1 egg
1 tablespoon of poultry seasoning
Salt/pepper
Olive oil
1 cup dry white wine
½ cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon of flour
I can of whole berry cranberry sauce
Zest of one orange

Method

Preheat oven to 375.  Drizzle some olive oil in a large oven-safe skillet or shallow roasting pan, set aside.  Dice about ¼ of the onion and place in large bowl.  Take remainder of onion, cube into quarters and scatter in the roasting pan.  Take one carrot and one celery stalk and cut in half.  Dice each half as small as you can and place in bowl.  Cut the remaining carrot and celery stalks into chunks and scatter in pan with the onion quarters.  Add ground turkey to the bowl with the veggies, then the poultry seasoning, egg, cracker crumbs, salt and pepper.  Combine by hand.  Score mixture into four even sections. (this ensures each loaf is the same size so it will cook evenly)  Form each one into an oval shape and place in the pan nestled amongst the veggies.  Drizzle everything with a little bit more olive oil then bake in the oven for about 30-45 minutes or until centers are no longer pink.

While loaves are cooking, empty the can of cranberry sauce into a small bowl.  Add the zest of one orange (zest is the peel/rind of the outer-most layer of the orange-you can use a small grater or micro plane for this).  Combine and chill in refrigerator.

When loaves are done, put everything on a separate plate and cover with foil.  Let sit.  Move that pan to a burner on medium heat.  Using the remaining oil (you may have to add a little bit more), whisk in the flour until thoroughly combined.  Then whisk in the wine, chicken stock, and a little salt/pepper.  Bring to a small boil until gravy starts to thicken then drop the heat down to low.

I served these with herbed mashed potatoes- prepare mashed potatoes as you normally would and instead of butter, combine about 1-2 tablespoons of onion/chive (or any kind of herb cream cheese) a little milk, salt/pepper.  Serve loaves on top of the potatoes, pour on gravy, and top with a dollop of the cranberry relish.  The veggies that were cooked with the loaves can also be a side dish as they will be caramelized and flavorful from roasting in the oven.

Tips:
*You can serve these with any of your favorite Thanksgiving side dishes.
*Don’t jive with wine? Use brandy or even white balsamic vinegar instead.

Grilled Eggplant over Nutty Farfalle

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This is based on one of the many traditional Italian pasta dishes that are a part of our Christmas Eve feast called “Pasta and Nuts”.  The original recipe is made with an anchovy base and the pasta used is spaghetti.  I thought it would be fun to put a slightly different spin on this family classic.

And don’t forget to check out the tips after the pictures!

Grilled Eggplant over Nutty Farfalle

Ingredients

1 eggplant, sliced in about ½ inch thick slices
1 8oz bag chopped walnuts
1 cup bread crumbs
4-6 garlic cloves, chopped (depends on your liking)
1 cup grated Parm cheese
1 lb Farfalle pasta (bow-ties) (I use Barilla Plus b/c it contains fiber, protein, and Omega-3)
Extra Virgin olive oil
Salt/pepper
Chopped flat leaf parsley
Crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Method

Preheat indoor grill pan (or outdoor grill).  Drizzle eggplant slices with olive oil and place on grill.  Cook about 3-4 minutes per side until lightly browned and fork tender.  Salt/pepper immediately after taken off grill and place aside.

Bring a pot of water to a boil and add pasta- cook 8-10 min (do not overcook- you want pasta to be al dente).

While pasta is cooking, in a large dry skillet over medium low heat, toast the walnuts for about 5 minutes.  Once they are lightly browned, add the cup of bread crumbs and toast for another 3-4 minutes.  Drop heat down to low and add the garlic.  When pasta is done, drain and add to skillet.  Drizzle with olive oil, add grated cheese and toss.  Sprinkle with some chopped flat leaf parsley and crushed red pepper flakes.  Serve topped with the grilled eggplant slices.

Tips:
*Toasting nuts brings out their natural oils therefore you don’t need to cook them in any oil.  However, this can cause the them to burn so cook them over low-medium low heat and never leave them unattended.
*Al dente pasta (firm but not too hard) has a lower glycemic index than pasta cooked soft.

Slow Cooker Osso Buco

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Osso Buco is a dish from Milan, Italy (beautiful place!) of braised veal shanks.  The veal is usually sprinkled with gremolata, a mix of parsley, garlic and lemon zest and served with risotto alla milanese, a risotto enhanced with saffron threads.  Osso Bucco means “hole bone” because the marrow is part of the dish’s appeal.  The restaurant that, in my opinion, has the best Osso Buco is DaSilvano in NYC- I was blown away by it.  And this dish is by far one of my favorite traditional Italian dishes that doesn’t involve pasta!

This can also be prepared in a dutch oven- same method, except put everything back into the dutch oven/pot instead of transfering to the slow cooker then cook in the oven at 325 for about 1-1 1/2 hrs.

Ingredients

·         1/4 pound pancetta, diced 1/4 inch cubes (do not substitute bacon)

·         2-1/2 to 3 pounds veal shanks (4 to 6 pieces 2-3 inches thick)

·         1/2 cup diced carrot (1/4 inch cubes)

·         1/2 cup diced celery (1/4 inch cubes)

·         1 medium onion, diced 1/4 inch pieces

·         2 Tbsp (about 4 cloves) chopped garlic

·         3-4 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 tsp. dried)

·         1 Tbsp olive oil

·         1 cup dry white wine

·         1-2 cups chicken or veal stock

·         Flour for dusting the meat before browning

·         Salt and Pepper

Gremolata

·         2 Tbsp Minced flat leaf Italian) parsley

·         1 Tbsp grated lemon zest

·         2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced

Preheat slow cooker on high.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot on the stove top over medium heat for about five minutes.  Add pancetta to pan and cook, stirring ocassionally.  When the pancetta is crispy and most of the fat is rendered (about 5 min of cooking), remove pancetta to a plate covered in some paper towel and set aside.  If necessary, drain all but 2 tablespoons of the rendered fat.

Season the veal shanks well with salt and pepper.  Dredge the veal shanks through some flour, shake off any excess, and add the meat to the hot fat in the pot. Increase the heat to medium high and cook the meat on each side until well browned (about 5 minutes per side).  Remove shanks to a plate, set aside.

Add the onions, carrots, and celery to the pot.  Cook the onion mixture, stirring frequently, until the onions are translucent (about five minutes) and toss in the garlic and thyme. Continue cooking until the vegetables just begin to brown (about 10

Add the vegetables to the slow cooker then top with the shanks and the pancetta.  Pour in the wine, and then add enough stock to come a little more than half way up the side of the shanks.  Cover and cook on high for about 6-8 hours.

Combine the gremolata ingredients, place in a separate small serving dish.

Serves 4 to 6, depending on how many shanks you have, one shank per person. Serve on top of risotto or polenta (for low carb version, if you dare, skip the risotto or polenta). Sprinkle with gremolata.

Chicken Cutlets over Prosciutto/Peas Gnocchi

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I first had this (minus the chicken) as a pasta course at a wedding this summer and fell in love, so I created my own version.  I just love the combination of the salty prosciutto and the pop of the sweet peas in your mouth.  Truly a decadant dish!

If you have any questions/concerns/suggestions about this recipe (or any of them) please feel free to DM me!

Chicken Cutlets w/side of Gnocchi, Prosciutto, Peas in Cream Sauce

Chicken Cutlets:

4 Chicken cutlets (thinner versions of boneless chicken breasts)
1 cup of bread crumbs
½ cup Parmesan Reggiano cheese (or any kind of parm cheese you like)
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp water
Olive oil
Salt/pepper

Sauce:

1 tablespoon of unsalted butter
1 tablespoon of flour
2 cups of milk (I use whole but feel free to use 1% or 2%)
1 cup grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese
1 package of prosciutto, coarsely chopped (you can find this in the pre-packaged deli case)
2 cups of organic frozen sweat peas
1 teaspoon of olive oil
Salt/pepper
Crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
One package of Gnocchi (not a fan? Use any pasta you like)

Preheat oven 400 degrees.  In one shallow dish, pour bread crumbs and parm cheese.   In another shallow dish, beat egg with a teaspoon of water.  Salt and pepper each cutlet lightly, then one at a time, drudge in the egg first then in bread crumbs.  Place on lightly greased (I use some non-stick olive oil cooking spray) baking sheet and drizzle each cutlet with a little olive oil.  Bake for about 15-20 min until chicken is no longer pink and the juices run clear.

While chicken is in oven, start your water boiling for the gnocchi (cook as directed on package) .

In a large non-stick skillet over medium low, heat about a teaspoon of olive oil.  Add the prosciutto and cook for approx.  1-2 min, just until a little browned.  Remove from pan and place on a paper towel so it will absorb some of the oil.  In that same skillet, turn heat up to medium and add the tablespoon of unsalted butter.  Once butter is completely melted, add in the flour.  Whisk together for about 2 minutes until combined.  Then add the milk.  Continue to whisk until sauce begins to thicken.  This will happen when sauce comes to a small boil.  Once that happens you can reduce heat to medium low and add your cheese.

When sauce is done, add the prosciutto and frozen peas (they will thaw in the sauce) and combine.  You can add a little cracked black pepper however, you don’t need to add salt as the prosciutto and cheese are salty enough themselves.
When gnocchi is cooked, drain, mix in with the sauce and serve.  Sprinkle with more parm cheese, crushed red pepper flakes, and garnish with chopped flat-leaf parsley (optional).  I like to spoon the gnocchi on the plate first then place the chicken on top but do it any way you want to.  Enjoy!

Mexican Lasagna

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1lb ground meat ( whatever you prefer- chicken, turkey, pork, beef)
1 lg onion chopped
1 diced green bell pepper
2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 can of organic refried beans (Amy’s brand is the best)
1 jar of taco sauce (or a cup of organic salsa)
Olive oil
1 10oz can of enchilada sauce
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste
6 tortillas, cut in half (I like to use organic whole wheat)
3 cups of shredded cheese (any kind you like)
Preheat oven 400 degrees
Add olive oil to a skillet and heat on medium.  Then add onions and peppers and cook for about 5 minutes.
Add the meat and cook until no longer pink.
Then add the seasonings, salt and pepper, and combine thoroughly.
Add in the garlic, refried beans, taco sauce, and enchilada sauce and simmer on medium heat for about 2-3 min.
While the mixture is simmering, cut the tortillas in half so they resemble half moons.
In a rectangular baking dish, create one layer of the tortillas, then spoon in some of the mixture so it covers the tortillas evenly, and then sprinkle with the shredded cheese.
Repeat above steps one more time then bake for about 15 minutes or just until cheese is slightly brown and contents are bubbly.
* Instead of chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper you can substitute with ½ package of taco seasoning. (However, there is also more sodium and preservatives in the pre-packaged seasoning mixes)
* To make this vegetarian, substitute the meat for tofu (or add other veggies) and use vegetarian refried beans.
*If you like it hot you can add a pinch or several of cayenne pepper to the mixture.

1lb ground meat ( whatever you prefer- chicken, turkey, pork, beef)
1 lg onion chopped
1 diced green bell pepper
2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 can of organic refried beans (Amy’s brand is the best)
1 jar of taco sauce (or a cup of organic salsa)
Olive oil
1 10oz can of enchilada sauce
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste
6 tortillas, cut in half (I like to use organic whole wheat)
3 cups of shredded cheese (any kind you like)
Preheat oven 400 degrees
Add olive oil to a skillet and heat on medium.  Then add onions and peppers and cook for about 5 minutes.
Add the meat and cook until no longer pink.
Then add the seasonings, salt and pepper, and combine thoroughly.
Add in the garlic, refried beans, taco sauce, and enchilada sauce and simmer on medium heat for about 2-3 min.
While the mixture is simmering, cut the tortillas in half so they resemble half moons.
In a rectangular baking dish, create one layer of the tortillas, then spoon in some of the mixture so it covers the tortillas evenly, and then sprinkle with the shredded cheese.
Repeat above steps one more time then bake for about 15 minutes or just until cheese is slightly brown and contents are bubbly.
* Instead of chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper you can substitute with ½ package of taco seasoning. (However, there is also more sodium and preservatives in the pre-packaged seasoning mixes)* To make this vegetarian, substitute the meat for tofu (or add other veggies) and use vegetarian refried beans.
*If you like it hot you can add a pinch or several of cayenne pepper to the mixture.

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